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Affordable alternatives to gym memberships

Last Modified: December 01, 2023

Sports & Exercise


This post was written by Shawn M. Glenn, ATC, certified athletic trainer, Parkview Sports Medicine.

Gym memberships can be costly for those on a budget. With money not going as far as it once did, we have to shift our thinking toward more affordable options for obtaining that fresh-from-the-gym feeling. Here are a few simple ideas to keep up with your fitness without the fees associated with gym memberships.

Set up a home gym

By turning an area of your home into a gym, you can enjoy the benefits of working out from the comfort of your home without paying a monthly fee. A reasonable home gym could include equipment like:

  • Dumbbells
  • A bench
  • Barbell
  • Jump rope
  • Plyo box
  • Kettlebells
  • Squat rack
  • Weight plates
  • Cables
  • A mat or gym flooring
  • Mirror
  • Exercise machines (treadmill, stationary bike, rowing machine, etc.)

Free weights and a bench are likely the most common things found in a home gym. Depending on your budget, you can look for used equipment on social media sites or community postings.

If going online to look through others’ used items seems too much of a hassle, or you don’t like the idea of secondhand workout equipment, you can shop around and find cheaper versions of the same gym equipment through online box stores. Beware, however, you get what you pay for. That is, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research and read reviews if they are available.

As a helpful resource, you can browse a curated collection of Parkview-approved fitness items in our Best Buy shop

Get creative

If you aren’t comfortable with the gym equipment options available within your budget, you can try your hand at making something yourself. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Most of the gym equipment you’re familiar with now was once just an idea in someone’s head. Just remember to stay safe while experimenting. YouTube is a great resource for inspiration.

Explore the outdoors

Another great alternative to weights, equipment and group classes is getting outside for exercise. Take a walk at your local park, ride your bike around your neighborhood or go for a jog on the trails. All of these activities can be done alone or with a friend. Some parks even have free, outdoor fitness stations for public use. While exercises without weights won’t get you looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger (you’d likely need an actual gym membership and a lot of free time to accomplish that), they are healthy.

When all is said and done, the most important part of any exercise program is that you find something you like and will stick with. My hope is that whatever you pick, it makes you happy. You can read more about the many benefits of regular exercise here.


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